April 12, 2006

Disease mongering

PLoS Medicine has a collection of articles on Disease Mongering (freely available). From The Fight against Disease Mongering: Generating Knowledge for Action by guest editors Ray Moynihan and David Henry:
The problem of disease mongering is attracting increasing attention [1–3], though an adequate working definition remains elusive. In our view, disease mongering is the selling of sickness that widens the boundaries of illness and grows the markets for those who sell and deliver treatments. It is exemplified most explicitly by many pharmaceutical industry–funded disease-awareness campaigns—more often designed to sell drugs than to illuminate or to inform or educate about the prevention of illness or the maintenance of health. In this theme issue and elsewhere, observers have described different forms of disease mongering: aspects of ordinary life, such as menopause, being medicalised; mild problems portrayed as serious illnesses, as has occurred in the drug-company-sponsored promotion of irritable bowel syndrome (see pp. 156–174 in [2]; [4]) and risk factors, such as high cholesterol and osteoporosis, being framed as diseases.

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